Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren Lite – 01-06 Bento

chulite

As with the first season, Ren’s “Lite” mini-episodes air separately on KyoAni’s YouTube channel, rather than taking up 2-3 minutes of the regular episodes. And like the first set, these six mini-episodes explore other regions of the Chu2Koi universe.

01: When Shinka enters the club room to clean up, she has trouble separating Kumin from the kotatsu, only to find Rikka and Sanae are under there too. We have to side with Shinka; it probably stinks under there, and needs cleaning.

02: When her left eye gets infected, Rikka tries to get by wearing two eyepatches. Yuuta is rightfully dubious, and later helps her apply eye drops, resulting in dialogue misconstrued as amorous by Shinka and Kumin.

03: Flashback to Rikka in middle school, trying to learn ESP clairvoyance, and foresight. Because it is middle school, her strange behavior isn’t as looked down upon. Of course, we know she’ll continue to refine her skills well into high school.

04: Back in the present, it’s a stormy day and the club is playing a particularly tense game of Old Maid; tense because the loser has to go out in the rain to buy everyone else snacks. Sanae and Shinka duke it out, but both lose when they tear a card.

05: Another flashback, this time with Yuuta back when he was full-on Dark Flame Master. For the record, we really enjoy watching him act out so sincerely; as opposed to his more forced manner in the present. Kuzuha’s friend thinks he’s cool, and for a moment, so does she, until he does something klutzy.

06: Flashback #3, this time with Shinka as Mori Summer, and again, it’s nice to see her being earnest and unashamed with her Chuunibyouness. She also has an answer for all of her skeptical friend’s questions relating to angel summoning. Turns out Satone is recounting this to Kumin in the present, much to Shinka’s embarrassment.

Advertisements

Takanashi Rikka Kai: Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Movie

chu2m1

So, we finally got around to watching this movie, which is a suitable substitute for the first season, as it’s pretty much the first season (our reviews here) on fast-forward, complete with a few awkward cuts from one episode to the next. The conceit is that in the time before Rikka knows whether she has to move away or will be able to live alone above Yuuta, she retells her story to the audience from her perspective.

chu2m2

The only problem is, aside from the sequences that bookend the film and a couple narrations, there’s nothing different from the events that take place here and the way they unfolded in the first season. It would have been interesting to see more new material from that time, rather than simply rehash it all in abridged form. Thus, this film is kind of a let-down, but only for those who went into it not knowing what it was going to be.

chu2m3

For those who want to be brought up to speed on how Yuuta and Rikka fell for each other and ended up living alone together (however briefly), this film does the trick, though certainly nowhere near as efficiently as, say, Kill la Kill’s excellent cold-open recap. For those like us who thought there’d be more original material, it was still enjoyable to go back and be reminded why we liked the franchise so much we eagerly awaited its sequel, which is proving just as good.

chu2m4

As for the original material, the ending, in which Yuuta (along with Touka) have to go to bat against Grandpa Takanashi, and it was great to see Rikka’s moment of jubilation upon learning they succeeded. But the star of this film is the entire pre-opening credits sequence: a gorgeous, lavishly-animated wedding-slash-battle that’s really just a Rikka daydream. If you’re not interested in a gorified season recap, we still recommend watching at least this first bit of the film, which is a great microcosm of why we love the franchise so much.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 01

chu221

Chu2Koi Ren may well be another beautifully animated KyoAni guilty pleasure, packed with pretty characters, goofy situations, wry quips, and the occasional magical battles, but that doesn’t diminish our view that the most impressive and complete first episode of the new Winter season, not the least of which because it so brilliantly executes all of those things with equal efficacy in a way few other series can manage.

To be fair, Chu2Koi Ren has a sizable head start on the rest of the season: it’s a direct sequel backed by an entire season of emotional investment; we’re still being introduced to the other Winter shows and trying to remember names. Indeed, we can’t really say how much we’d enjoy this episode if we hadn’t seen its first season. All we know is, we did, a lot. From the clever split screen that reveals that Yuta and Rikka are living together when their mornings merge, we felt like we were curling up with an old friend.

chu2212

That’s the appeal of Chu2Koi for us, as well as Kyoukai no Kanata, Hyouka, Suzumiya, etc.: while they may all contain their fare share of perils moral, physical, emotional, and philosophical, there’s an underlying sense of optimism and reassurance that all will be well. It’s the anime equivalent of comfort food, only flashier. Don’t get us wrong: many a favorite show of ours has tortured its characters from start to finish, but can also be gratifying to see a show pamper, even spoil them, along with us. It might even be tougher to make an interesting show that way, but Chu2Koi Ren makes it look easy.

Our primary hope at last season’s end was for Yuta and Rikka’s relationship to endure and progress; it has and it looks like it will. We also wanted the brief but powerful “imagination” battles to carry over; they have. The visuals dazzle, the dialogue crackles, and there’s abundant comedy woven throughout. Every movement major or minor is fussed over, while and the previous season’s worth of experience working together is apparent in the voice actors, who bounce off each other with gusto. Chu2Koi Ren hasn’t missed a beat, reminding us why we fell for its predecessor, leaving us eager for more.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – OVA

Takanashi Rikka, Togashi Yuuta

With Christmas approaching, the club agrees to throw a party. The school is closed, so Dekomori hosts everyone at her enormous mansion. While playing cards Dekomori and Rikka get drunk off of alcoholic pastries, briefly loosening their tongues about their feelings towards Shinka and Yuuta, respectively. Yuuta carries her home, but she feels better on the train and they go on a Christmas cruise on a sightseeing boat. When the time comes to speak up, they agree to keep things the way they are for now and everything will work out. Dekomori and the others join them on the boat.

This was a nice little nugget of Chu2Koiness to bridge the gap between last fall and the forthcoming second season, one that we said at the end of the first we hope will further flesh out Yuuta and Rikka’s relationship. They don’t really make any significant progress towards officially becoming a couple, such a major development, if it occurs, will occur next season. Their interactions here underline the fact that there’s no rush, but if they’re still just tenderly holding pinkies deep into the second season, we’ll be disappointed. Even Kuroneko and Kyousuke became an official couple, for crying out loud!

Speaking of tiresome, Dekomori Sanae should really be intolerable to us, but we get a kick out of Uesaka Sumire’s very playful and vibrant manner of speaking. We also get an awesome quasi-battle with an unarmed Yuuta versus a very tipsy Rikka and Sanae totally going all out with the weaponry. Along with the lovely Yuuta/Rikka chemistry, these battles were one of our favorite things about the series, and hope to see more of them next season. We also like Shinka helping Rikka out with trying to get closer to Yuuta, as Rdikka is still new to this kinda thing.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – 12 (Fin)

Yuuta is distraught  as he’s heard no word from Rikka since she left with her mother. Dekomori has reverted to a normal eighth grader, while Kumin appears to have “inherited” Rikka’s Wicked Eye. When Yuuta’s sister tells him the movers came for the rest of Rikka’s stuff, he races to her house by bike, heeding a letter he wrote to himself two years ago as Dark Flame Master, imploring him to remember he is “special”. He learns that his past exploits triggered Rikka’s Chuunibyou, which she used as a coping device. He “rescues” her from her mundane existence at her grandfather’s house, flees the police with the help of their friends, and shows Rikka the “Ethereal Horizon” so she can say goodbye to her father.

Well now…we’re quite happy with this, the first ending of the fall. It was a good ending, with the message that we all have our little “syndromes” at varying times in our lives to deal with whatever life throws at us. Rikka and Yuuta are no different from anyone else in this regard, except that Yuuta’s Chuunibyou led Rikka to explore her own imagination, and find solace there from the harshness of reality. In flashbacks we see that she was essentially numbed by her father’s death, as she always held out hope he would recover and had no indication he wouldn’t. The world of fantasy she enters doesn’t hamper her growth. It makes it bearable. Yuuta finally makes the right choice, deciding to listen to his past self and heroically races to save Rikka from the prison of normalcy he himself helped build around her.

Ironically, in order to face reality, Rikka had to return to fantasy, and Yuuta helped guide her there, just as he inadvertently guided her into the world of Chuunibyou years before. Certainly, fantasy mustn’t occupy every waking moment of one’s life, but nor can it be totally repressed, going against one’s instincts. Ever since Rikka removed her eye patch, both she and Yuuta both felt something wasn’t right, because something wasn’t. We can never totally reject the extraordinary from our lives, because the fact of the matter is, when you take a moment to look at it, every aspect of life is extraordinary. So, we bid adieu to Yuuta, Rikka, Sanae, Kumin, and Shinka, all of them having realized that in their lives a personal balance must be struck between the ordinary and the fantastical.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

UPDATE: Looks like there will be a second season of Chu2Koi. We look forward to it, and hope it further fleshes out a Yuuta/Rikka relationship.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – 10

After their embrace, Rikka consults with Dekomori while Yuuta talks with Isshiki on how to proceed. Both are supportive. While walking home, after a couple failed attempts, Rikka successfully confess to one another and enter into a “lovers’ contract”. On coming home Touka takes Yuuta to a cafe, where she tells him she’s moving to Italy to train to be a chef, and their mother will be moving in with Rikka. The next day at school, Rikka’s mom appears with a lunch for her. Yuuta tells her to take off her eyepatch, but a heated exchange ensues. Yuuta doesn’t perform with Rikka for the festival. Later that night at the talent show, Rikka sings a song her late father liked, then removed her contact and eyepatch.

That was one hell of a hug last week. Yuuta’s first time hugging a girl, and Rikka’s first time hugging a guy. Considering their inexperience, it’s inevitable they’d have trouble figuring out how to proceed. And yet, they do a pretty damn good job of it, not spending episodes not talking or avoiding each other or falling subject to rivals – just walking home, getting stuck in the rain, grabbing a bite at EcDonalds (yeah that’s spelled right) and ending up under a bridge with a beautiful, romantic scene of the town-lit river. And they make their feelings known to each other. Yuuta definitely gets style points for preparing a confession as Dark Flame Master, and of course Rikka eats it up. Weights are lifted and everything’s peachy…until Rikka’s mom enters the picture.

Rikka’s mom…the one whose responsibility was to deliver the truth about her father in a timely fashion, but didn’t, resulting in a complete fiasco when Dad died. Rikka hasn’t forgiven her, and we don’t blame her. But we also understand Yuuta’s position: he can’t continue to enable Rikka to live in a fantasy world; she needs to turn the page and grow up. The time for that comes right quick too, as their honeymoon is tragically brief. In a rapid flashback of Things Not Going Well (when Yuuta presents Rikka with a lunch her mom made), we see them grappling roughly, so far removed by the day before, when she seemed so fragile she might break if he held her closer. But after that tantrum, when Rikka removes her eyepatch – her trusty armor against…something – in front of the whole school, it’s like a long-overdue first step towards adulthood.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – 08

Rikka and Touka “do battle” in the lot where their house once stood, but Touka can’t get through to Rikka, who flees. Yuuta chases after her, and he finally finds her on the night train back home. She forgot her key and his family is all away, so the two spend the night at his place. Meanwhile Isshiki goes on a walk with Kumin, but he misinterprets her intentions. While in (separate) bed(s) trying to sleep, both Yuuta and Rikka are kept up by the possibility they may have a deeper bond than they thought…

Throughout the last couple episodes, Yuuta has felt compelled to come to Rikka’s aid and stay by her side, no matter how out of breath he gets. Part of him is doing this because he identifies with her Chuunibyou, having gotten it after feeling “left out” with his friends. Part of him wants to cure her. And then another part is totally into her, whether she’s acting like a kid or not. He and she are, as Isshiki said, high schoolers. Acting like the adults they’re becoming isn’t just about accepting the reality of lost homes and departed dads – it also means girlfriends and romance. While Yuuta finds himself in a most fortuitous situation – alone with Rikka in his house all night – he’s confused by how to proceed, and it seems would rather not want anything to…happen.

Not that it would; most of the time Rikka mistakes her racing heart for her instincts telling her the “goddess” or other “overseers” may be near. Yuuta remarks to himself she may not even be that conscious of the whole concept of love. But the fact of the matter is, the two have bubbling chemistry, and are very comfortable being around each other. So will Rikka ultimately come to escape her Chuunibyou through her strengthening bond with Yuuta? Or will Yuuta continue to “regress” back into Chuunibyou under her charm and influence? Or will this just be another case of nothing happening between two people who would seem to be a good match? What is that, some kind of KyoAni hallmark?


Rating: 8 (Great)

P.S. Isshiki’s little side-story involving Kumin was actually quite entertaining. We even felt for the guy when she left him a polite note telling him she’s going home ahead of him while he’s on the phone with Yuuta pleading for advice on how to…proceed.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – 05

The teacher who approved the circle says it will be disbanded if Rikka doesn’t pass math exams. Rikka is terrible at math and hates studying, so she first tries praying at a shrine, then has the circle volunteer to clean a pool. Her teacher then tells her she’ll have to at least meet the class’s average score, not merely pass. Yuuta takes her under his wing and gives her a crash course in math, using nomenclature that appeals to her Chuunibyou. She ends up beating the average by two points. As a reward, Yuuta bestows her the email address “Black Raison d’être.”

Just about everyone in the circle revealed something new about their characters. Sanae is really good at math. Shinka is just class rep and cheerleader because it’s the opposite of Chuunibyou, not because those things actually interest her. Yuuta softens his self-embargo on Chuunibyou in the service of education. Kumin…well, Kumin still just likes to nap. Finally, Rikka is extremely bad at math; may have ADHD…and while we’re quite familiar with her upbeat, over-imaginative side, this week things got a little more…melancholy.

Rikka’s not the best when it comes to chores (her room’s a mess and she leaves dirty dishes around), and her sister is almost always late. Tooka and Sanae may well be the only contacts in her phone. In short, she’s lonely and isolated, and for her, Chuunibyou makes life that much less depressing. So rather than insist on minimizing its role in their interactions, Yuuta, having gotten to know Rikka more, embraces it in helping her cram. Math, like high school socializing, is a language she isn’t comfortable with. If Yuuta wants her to learn either, it must be on her terms.This seems to be steadily building up to a weird but interesting romance.


Rating: 8 (Great)

P.S. Sanae really should stop ending every other sentence with “desu”…but she probably won’t.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – 04

Yuuta grudgingly joins the Far Eastern Magic Nap Society because Nibutani Shinka also joined, though he can’t figure out why she did. She asks Yuuta if she can visit him at his house on Sunday, confusing him further about her intentions. It turns out Shinka was searching for Sanae’s “Mabinogion”, which she herself wrote a year ago under the pseudonym “Forest Summer.” She seeks to destroy all evidence of her Chuunibyou past. She burns the book, but Sanae tells her she has other copies. Yuuta suggests Shinka “fight her” with magic, but Sanae defeats her. Shinka decides to stay with the society until her goal is complete.

We thought we knew what was going on…we thought Yuuta was being needlessly suspicious and catious…we thought Shinka joined because she – teehee – liked him. How wrong we were. Shinka is rotten to the core…well, it’s more accurate to say she’s like Yuuta: a Chuuneetotaler, one who has forsaken their dorky past and switched schools so she could have a normal high school life. But she doesn’t like Yuuta. Yuuta was right all along. She isn’t interested in him in the least (not yet, anyway). We daresay this new, imperfect Shinka is far more interesting than the ditzy cipher we’ve seen the last three episodes. The Oribe Yasuna (same seiyu) within has been drawn out, and we’re lovin’ it..though we still don’t get her barrette placement.

It would seem the Chuunibyou phenomenon is a lot more common than one would think; the club is made up of two currently in the throes of it, two who tried to kick the habit but were brought back into its midst by fate, and…Kumin, who just naps all the time. But there are sure to be more at their school. Aside from learning more about Shinka, we had Yuuta making clever use of his “darkness notes” to shoo Rikka and Sanae away for his “date”; we saw Shinka resorting to chanting a curse, reverting to her Chuunibyou habits. This week’s battle was between Shinka and Sanae is a battle Sanae wins not because of her Mjolnir, but by reciting Shinka’s own Mabinogion to her verbatim, wearing her down till she yields in self-disgust.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – 03

A month of school passes, and the time comes to select clubs. Rikka decides to form the “Far East Magic Society”, giving Yuuta the presidency. He declines, but she doesn’t take no for an answer. She recruits Kumin (adding “Nap” to the club name), her middle school “servant” Dekomori Sanae, and her cat, but it still isn’t enough for club approval. After cleaning a classroom for her, a teacher approves them as a circle. The next day, Shinka tells Yuuta she wants to join the circle (adding “of Summer” to the name), giving them the “Far East Magic Nap Society of Summer” five human members.

By this episode’s end, our friend Yuuta has stumbled somewhat unintentionally into a full-fledged harem, made up of the crazy girl, the crazy girl’s twin-tail friend, the sleepy girl, and the girl voted cutest in the class by the guys, who just happened to be lurking in the bushes late at night just when Yuuta, Kumin and Sanae were leaving. This is a lucky bastard. Shinka – whom he keeps dreaming about in squeaky-clean fantasies – actually seems like she’s interested in all the Chuunibyou crap. So he’s made in the shade, right?

You’d think so. I mean, she’s the cutest girl in his class; the guys have spoken. If she’s into him and his weirdo circle, then why should he care what the rest of his class thinks? He has a harem, even if it is a harem of dorks. But the male leads in the middle of these things always seem to find a fly in the ointment. This development has likely only confused, not clarified, matters for him. It all depends on what he deems more important: having an all-female group of spirited friends who like him for who he was and is (which he has), or achieving the ideal of normality, shedding all vestiges of his Chuunibyou (which he hasn’t).


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

P.S. Another quick but fun duel, this time between Rikka and Sanae. In their imaginations, they’re extremely cool looking, but in reality they’re just rolling on the floor with pushbrooms. It’s moments like that that make us see why Yuuta is so hesitant to return to that kind of lifestyle!

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – 02

Yuuta is chosen as one of the class reps with the beautiful Nibutani Shinka, and feels like things are looking up. But Rikka acquires a lost “chimera” (cat) and requests he take care of it, as her sister is allergic. Shinka points them to Tsuyuri Kumin, whose cat is missing. They go to Rikka’s house, and the cat isn’t hers. Rikka’s sister Tooka confronts them, and blackmails Yuuta into taking the cat with inflammatory audio of him from eighth grade. Rikka escapes, Yuuta and Kumin follow, and Tooka pursues and duels with Rikka, defeating her. Yuuta adopts the cat.

The surprisingly engrossing story of a lost cat combined with Yuuta’s clinging to the notion of living a normal high school life and gradually failing was enough for us to rank this as an 8 relatively early, but that was before a totally unexpected diversion into Rikka’s imagination when she battles her older sister. What’s merely and umbrella and ladel become huge, FLCL-esque weapons wielded with lightning speed and deadly force in a kick-ass action scene. But this eye candy was only the icing of the cake; a means to an end.

It showed Yuuta that there’s still value in a vibrant imagination – it gives excitement to life and makes the ordinary extraordinary. He totally geeks out on an antique weapon on Rikka’s wall – checking himself too late to avoid Kumin’s bemused/charmed gaze – but it doesn’t seem to matter. Both Kumin and Shinka earlier on aren’t really put off by Rikka’s behavior, nor do they turn their nose up at Yuuta for it. Perhaps Rikka’s over-active and Yuuta’s re-emerging Chuunibyou-ness and Yuuta’s desire to make friends in high school aren’t mutually exclusive. Only his desire to be dull and normal is.


Rating: 9 (Superior)


Car Cameo: Honda Civic
sedan on the bridge, right in the beginning.